Today is the last day of the decade. Can you even handle it?
This has been the most monumental decade for me. Some of it was wonderful. Some of it was horrifying.
Here is the recap of the biggest events, from start to finish, in more detail than you ever wanted, because I care, and because so many of you were a part of it, and deserve to have your part of it documented as well.
Or, because I’m an outrageous narcissist and insist on writing about myself.
* some names have been changed
TW/CW: this post references severe depression in depth, suicidal ideations, and very briefly addresses body image issues.
I’m 17 years old and it’s New Year’s Eve. Tori is having a party and I’m very deliberately planning to arrive late because my crush (who is everything) is supposed to be there–and if I’m late, I’ll look less desperate than I so deeply am.
He never shows–but this is the best New Year’s Eve I have in high school. We spend the entire night fighting over what to watch and give up to watch Anderson Cooper and Kathy Griffin on CNN.
At midnight, we go into Tori’s front yard and throw firecrackers at each other’s feet and scream into the dark.
Mom and I are at yet another vet appointment for our beloved dog Peaches.
She’s been sick the last few months, we think with bladder infections, and she hasn’t been improving.
The vet who has fallen in love with Peaches over the years tell us it looks like Peach has lymphoma and they talk about options for her. Mom and I know we’re not putting our sweet girl through surgeries or chemotherapy. She’s 11 years old, she’s had a good life, but she’s never been the same since my first dog Rudy died in 2007.
We keep her comfortable. We set up a bed in the family room so one of us can sleep with her and she doesn’t have to use the stairs. Peaches thinks the bed is for her and we sleep on the couch while she switches between the mattress and her dog bed–she likes options.
I wake up for school one morning and she’s suffering from bloat and her eyes don’t look the same, she’s not really there anymore. I know that this will be the last time I see her. I give her hugs, I say goodbye, and go to school. I check my phone in Physics and Mom tells that Peaches is in a better place now.
I’m numb for a few minutes, tell a few friends my dog died, start laughing hysterically and can’t stop–I don’t know how to process my emotions. My newspaper adviser approaches me when I calm down and gives me Girl Scout Cookies and tells me he’s really sorry. The next day at school, friends give me food and presents and tell me they miss her, too.
That weekend, I take Amtrak up to Baltimore to visit my Maryland friends. Drew makes us nachos and Erin, Dolly, and Jackie distract me.
We go to Michael’s and make crafts, gorge ourselves on carbs at IHOP, get dessert even though we’re full, and I fall asleep watching Saturday Night Live on Erin’s couch.
They know exactly what I need.
I signed up for a Summer Arts Intensive at VCU, one of the schools I’m planning on applying to for college. It’s three weeks long, and I’ve never been away from both of my parents for more than a few days.
The first few days are bumpy and scary–my roommate is… eccentric, and my stomach flares up and there is so much walking, and I still don’t know what’s going on in my body and why I hurt all the time–
But it ends up being one of the best things I’ve ever done in my entire life.
I learn new skills in Adobe Creative Suite, I learn about the fundamentals of graphic design, I learn how to screenprint and use a letterpress, I meet new people, I learn how to be away from my parents and my home, I get an authentic dorm experience, and my class and I end up singing the entire time we’re there.
We’re at Megan’s house after homecoming piled on couches and sleeping bags and floors.
Three of my friends start singing the lyrics to songs about drinking and partying, lifelessly, like a chant. I don’t know what’s going on, but there’s a serious disconnect between us. I know they won’t be friends with me after high school.
It’s the second weekend of October.
In the timespan of 96 hours–
I take the SAT, I go on a college tour of Syracuse with my parents and decide that not only do I not want to attend Syracuse, I don’t want to attend any university, I see a taping of The Colbert Report where I get to speak to Stephen Colbert and do a secret handshake with him, and my grandmother dies.
Senioritis has nothing on me.
I go with several of the members of the newspaper staff to Kansas City, Missouri for a high school journalism convention with our adviser. We’re obnoxious and horrible as we travel, but we attend seminars and I actually learn a few things and we exchange newspapers with kids from across the country.
There’s an awards ceremony on the last day of the convention and they give out awards for the best news website. We don’t win. My adviser can see my heartbreak–I’m the Online Editor-in-Chief and the website is basically my child. He leans over and gives me a little star pin that lights up to go on my lanyard.
“You’re a star,” he says.
Whatever this man is paid is not enough.
I’m still (forever) hung up over the boy I like. How do you stop having a crush? How do you make it stop?
In a last ditch effort, I write him a letter telling him how I feel, that I know he doesn’t feel the same, but I need him to know because I have felt like this for four years and until he knows, my feelings won’t go away.
He responds better than any high school boy in the history of high school boys. He calls me and talks to me and does his best to offer me closure–he says I’m a good friend and a great letter writer. I will only ever say good things about him.
New Year’s Eve.
My cousin Andy, my uncle Malcolm, and aunt Vicki arrive at our house. Andy will be living with us until August while he completes an internship at IBM.
I’m excited that Andy will live with us–he’s always been one of my favorite cousins–but I started getting anxiety attacks over winter break and I feel incapacitated when I think about going back to school and finishing my college applications. I don’t want to go to college, but I still have to apply.
I hide in my parents’ room crying for a few hours until I can compose myself to go downstairs.
We ring in the New Year with Martinelli’s and I go to bed early.